Hungarian research heralds breakthrough in prostate cancer diagnosis

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The marker 18F-JK-PSMA-7 from the innovative Hungarian healthcare company, the Positron Diagnostic Center, could be a breakthrough for prostate cancer patients because it shows metastases in prostate cancer patients more accurately than ever before, news portal Origo reports.

The use of a special marker in PET/CT scans makes up for the noticeable lack of effective diagnosis of tumors. The tracer is manufactured in the company’s own laboratory with its own particle accelerator.

According to statistics, prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in Hungary and the fifth leading cause of death.

The Positron Diagnostic Center won more than 385 million forints in funding for a project leading to development, including the research and production of PSMA-specific tracers (radiopharmaceuticals), through a research and development tender funded by the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund.

The total cost of the project, which closes in February 2023, is 770 million forints, and the oompany’s own resources amounted to 385 million forints, so the support intensity is 50 percent, with an expected return of seven to eight years.

In the first year after the introduction of the special procedure, Pozitron-Diagnosztika Kft. undertook to perform a few hundred prostate cancer tests (PSMA tests), 250 of which have already been performed successfully. Thousands of examinations are planned in the coming years, so in the seven to eight years after the project closes, the investment can pay off from this one source, while thousands of people will be helped by a more accurate diagnosis, emphasized András Kókay, managing director of the Positron Diagnostics Center.

Dr. Szabolcs Szakáll, a nuclear medicine specialist and medical director, said that 5,000 to 6,000 new prostate cancers are diagnosed each year in Hungary, but one-third of those who undergo radical surgery relapse after surgery or radiation therapy. The first sign of this is an increase in PSA levels, which can be explained by the presence of undetected metastases.

However, the PSA level determined by the laboratory test does not provide information about the location of the metastases, emphasized Dr. Szabolcs Szakáll. He added that the study is based on the detection of a protein that is up to several hundred times more common in prostate cancer cells — the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA).

The associated PET markers are able to detect prostate cancer with unprecedented contrast. The primary purpose of PET/CT scans is to detect recurrences, Szakáll explained. The test can under certain conditions help determine the appropriate treatment strategy by assessing the pre-treatment stage of a previously confirmed prostate tumor.

Title image: The Hungarian diagnosis firm is the only one in the country to use this method. (source: Pozitron-Diagnosztika Központ)

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